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City jeweller to close after 106 years

The owners of Archer & Holland today announced they’re shutting up shop this year, after more than a century of hand-making jewellery for Adelaide customers.

Mar 01, 2024, updated Mar 01, 2024
Archer & Holland will close this year, with Meredith and Bill Whiting keen to retire. Photo: David Simmons/InDaily.

Archer & Holland will close this year, with Meredith and Bill Whiting keen to retire. Photo: David Simmons/InDaily.

Maker of bespoke jewellery Archer & Holland will close this year after more than a century of doing business in Adelaide, with the owners set for retirement.

The City Cross shop’s owners Bill Whiting – great-grandson of Archer & Holland co-founder Herbert Holland – and ex-partner Meredith Whiting made the decision with heavy hearts.

They told InDaily they’re ready to retire, but Bill said he would keep on making jewellery down the line.

“I’m 69 this year, but I could make jewellery until I die: that’s what I do, I’ve been doing it for 53 years,” Bill said.

“But I think I really need a break before I make the decision to set up a workshop at home or do work for someone else. But I need a break.”

Archer & Holland has been “sparkling since 1918” in Adelaide, and was first established on the corner of King William Road and Hindley Street where it developed its reputation for unique pieces.

Herbert Archer & Herbert Holland – an Adelaide City Councillor at the time – founded the business. Come the depression of the 1930s, Holland bought out Archer’s shares in the company.

Holland died in 1957, at which point his daughters took over the business. After that Bill and Meredith acquired the jeweller from Bill’s parents in 1992.

Bill and Meredith have run the business for more than 40 years, and said their three children were not interested in taking over.

Bill said the shop’s lease runs out at the end of July, and the pair added they would be open to selling the business.

“If someone did want to buy Archer & Holland – yeah, we would negotiate that for sure,” he said.

“I remember talking about this with my mother. She said ‘It’s just a business’. Yeah, it’s got all of the family history, but in the end, it’s just a business.”

Though the main reason behind the company’s imminent closure is the owners’ desire to retire, Bill said the advent of chain jewellery stores was “a big change” for Archer & Holland.

“It hasn’t been good for people like us. It’s cheapened jewellery a bit – that’s my opinion. They sell stuff that’s not one-off pieces, which is what we concentrate on. Ours are bespoke handmade pieces.

“There’s a place for both of course.”

Bill still hand-makes and repairs jewellery in the basement of the business’ City Cross store. Photo: David Simmons.

Bill was also concerned that the skills required to hand-make jewellery were being lost in the state. He still makes his pieces by hand, but said these days computers did the hard work in crafting jewellery.

“There’s not many that go through the apprenticeship anymore,” he said.

“A lot of it’s done by CAD now: you send a sketch with all the dimensions and it comes back made.

“They’re not learning how to repair things. It’s all just new. I don’t know what’ll happen with all the old pieces that we sell because it’s people like me that restore them.”

Meredith said she hadn’t had a holiday for years and that she was looking forward to retiring on the beach.

“I just need to have some time to relax and enjoy the outdoors,” she said.

“We haven’t had a holiday for years. The last one I was going on I got COVID the day before.”

As for what she’ll miss the most, Meredith said that “every day is something different”.

“I never know who’s going to walk in the door, it could be someone that we haven’t seen for years or a new customer, and I’ll really miss that because it’s exciting,” she said.

“And the quality of what Bill makes… we’re proud to say ‘here’s your ring’.  And to see their faces – we have people crying in the store, they’re so happy.”

As part of Bill and Meredith’s retirement, Archer & Holland will run a 30 per cent off sale from today.

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